How to Find a CDL Training School near Hackleburg Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Hackleburg AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Hackleburg home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Hackleburg AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Hackleburg AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Hackleburg AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Hackleburg AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Hackleburg AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Hackleburg AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Hackleburg AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Hackleburg AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Hackleburg AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Hackleburg AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Hackleburg AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Hackleburg Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Hackleburg developed in the early 19th century as a stop along Jackson's Military Road. It was named for the abundance of hackberry trees in the area. A post office opened in the town in 1885. Hackleburg incorporated in 1909 following the construction of a branch line of the Illinois Central Railroad through the area.
On April 27, 2011 Hackleburg suffered catastrophic damage when it was hit by an EF5 tornado – part of the 2011 Super Outbreak – which killed 18 Hackleburg residents. On May 2, the Red Cross declared the city 75 percent destroyed.
Hackleburg is located at 34°16′17″N 87°49′51″W / 34.27139°N 87.83083°W / 34.27139; -87.83083. The town is located in northern Marion County at the intersection of U.S. Route 43 and Alabama State Route 172. US 43 connects the town with Russellville to the north and Hamilton to the south. Dismals Canyon, a National Natural Landmark, is located just north of Hackleburg.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driver School Hackleburg AL
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Hackleburg AL.
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